In recent months, I have had problems with my cat Nina when she started to relieve herself outside of her litter box. It is a behavior problem in cats that causes you initial perplexity and then concern if the behavior becomes a habit.
As I did not know the cause or how to correct this unwanted behavior, I decided to do my “research” on the Internet on the subject. In search of a solution, I found a new website for cats that analyzes products for the health, hygiene and care of our cats.
Thanks to the page para- cats.net I discovered that my cat did not like the litter in her box, and I used her advice to choose the most appropriate litter for her. For the moment, the problem has been fixed.
With this article, I intend that you identify the cause of your cat making stools outside the litter box and that you find the solution to your case.
Why do some cats relieve themselves outside of their litter box?
At least 10% of cats are known to have elimination problems (toileting outside the box). There are cats that stop using a box completely, some only urinate or defecate in it, and others do it both inside and outside their box.
When a cat stops using its litter box for any reason, this can become a chronic and unpleasant problem because the cat may decide to dispose of its feces in places such as rugs, sofas, bathtubs etc.
The best way to fix this problem is to prevent it before it occurs by making your cat’s litter box as suitable as possible. Here are the most common problems and solutions to make litter boxes suitable for cats.
1. Problems in the handling and model of the box
The following common litter box problems could cause you to dispose of outside of its box:
- Not having several boxes in multi-cat houses.
- Your cat has difficulty accessing her litter box when she wants to.
- The litter box has a lid that makes you uncomfortable.
- Excess litter, cats prefer a thin coat.
- The litter box is too small for the size of the cat.
- Not cleaning your cat’s litter box thoroughly or as often as required.
- Have enough litter boxes, at least one for each cat, and even add one more.
- Place litter boxes in accessible places, avoid areas with high traffic, too remote or noisy. If you have a house with several floors and the cat runs through everything, it would be convenient to have a box on each floor.
- Remove any covers and liners from the box.
- Remove the stool each time. Once a week, clean the litter box with warm water and unscented soap, and replace all the litter with clean one.
Cats prefer litter boxes at least 1.5 times longer than their bodies, because they can get into them more easily.
2. Preference or aversion to the type of litter in the box
As predators, cats have highly developed smell and touch. Because of this sensitivity, some cats do not like the smell or texture of the sand in their boxes. This was the case with my cat Nina.
- Start by offering different types of cat litter. Cats generally prefer clumping litter with a medium to fine grain. They also tend to prefer unscented sand.
What can you do:
To help your cat choose her preferred litter, you can place several boxes next to each other with different types of litter. Your pet will use the one they like the most.
3. Preference for a certain surface or location
Some cats develop a preference for removing on certain surfaces or textures such as carpets, potting soil, or bedding.
Likewise, other felines sometimes have preferences about where they like to eliminate and avoid places that are not to their liking.
What can you do:
- In places that get dirty, you can try to place the litter box there. If that’s not possible, place the food bowl or water container in those areas to discourage elimination.
- Try to make those inappropriate removal areas uninteresting to you (bright lights, double-sided tape, aluminum foil, etc).
- If you like soft surfaces, try using a box of high-quality clumping sand and placing a soft mat underneath.
- If you prefer smooth and slippery surfaces, use a very thin layer of sand on one end of the box and leave the rest uncovered, set the box on a hard floor.
- If he likes to do it in the garden or outside of the house, you can try adding dirt or pieces of grass to the litter box.
4. Inability to use the litter box
Geriatric cats, cats with physical limitations (arthritic), or too young may have difficulty using boxes that have too high sides or an opening on the top side. Try switching to a low-sided litter box.
5. Negative association to litter box
If your cat had an unpleasant experience while using her litter box, she might associate that fact with the litter box and therefore avoid using it.
Your cat could have been cornered by a dog, cat or person, heard a loud noise or something happened that scared it. These experiences could make your cat very reluctant to enter her litter box.
Also, if your cat had a medical problem that caused him pain when relieving himself, you may have associated the discomfort with using his litter box. Even recovering from illness, that association can cause you to avoid your litter box.
6. Stress at home
Cats can be stressed by events that we often do not consider traumatic. For example, changes in furniture, the arrival of new pets or a baby, even changing her daily routine, can make your cat feel anxious.
Cats can stop using their litter boxes when they feel stressed. Eliminate any stressful or frustrating situation in your cat’s environment. If you can’t eliminate sources of stress, try reducing them.
7. Conflict in the multi-cat household
Sometimes one or more cats in a household control access to litter boxes and prevent other cats from using them. Also, any conflict between cats in a home can create enough stress to cause litter box problems.
What can you do:
- Place extra litter boxes in places where the anxious cat spends most of its time. Also make sure each cat has its own box.
- It can also be very useful to have cat trees with several perches, so that each cat has its resting place.
8. Medical problems that can cause inappropriate disposal
8.1. Urinary tract infection (UTI)
If your cat frequently uses the litter box and only passes small amounts of urine, she may be suffering from a urinary tract infection . Consult a veterinarian to rule out this possible medical problem.
8.2. Feline interstitial cystitis
It is a neurological disease that affects the cat’s bladder. Cats with cystitis will attempt to urinate frequently, with effort and little success.
Feline interstitial cystitis can cause the cat to do its “things” outside of the litter box, caused by the rush to urinate and pain when urinating. Feline interstitial cystitis is very serious and can be life-threatening for the cat.
8.3. Kidney stones or blockage
If your cat has kidney stones or a blockage, you can see that he frequently goes to the litter box. You may also notice that he is in pain, meowing or crying when he tries to relieve himself.
Medications to avoid necessities out of the box
Always consult with a veterinarian or veterinary behavior specialist before giving your cat any type of medication for this behavior problem.
Medications can be of additional help when inappropriate elimination is due to stress or anxiety. It is unlikely that it will help when your cat eliminates out of its box due to the other behavior problems that I have discussed.
What not what you should not do when your cat does not use the litter box
Regardless of what you do, here are some things to avoid:
- Don’t scold your cat or drag him to the litter box.
- Do not clean the stool, which is out of the box, with an ammonia-based cleaner. Urine contains ammonia, so cleaning with ammonia may attract your cat to the same spot to urinate again.
- Do not lock your cat in a small room with the litter box, for days, weeks or more, without having solved its elimination problems.
- Don’t rub your cat’s nose with urine or feces.
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